Johnny Depp's Sister Reveals Their Mom Used to Physically Abuse Them as Children

Johnny Depp's sister, Christi Dembrowski, testified Tuesday in court that she and her brother were physically abused by mother Betty Sue Palmer as children. Dembrowski took the stand as part of Depp's defamation lawsuit against ex-wife Amber Heard over a 2018 op-ed she wrote for the Washington Post about being a survivor of domestic violence, although the actress never named Depp in the article.

Dembrowski testified during proceedings inside the Fairfax County Courthouse in Virginia Tuesday, saying she and her brother witnessed and were subject to physical abuse from their mom growing up. "She would hit us. She would throw things," Dembrowski said, as per PEOPLE, answering when asked if her brother ever hit his mother in return. "He never went to that place."

"Really early on as a young child, none of what was happening in our home felt good," she continued. "And so, as I got older, both Johnny and I actually, we decided that once we left, once we had our own home, we were never going to repeat, ever, anything similar in any way to our childhood. We were gonna do it differently."

Palmer passed away in May 2016 at the age of 81, just days before Heard would file for divorce from Depp, seeking a domestic violence restraining order against him. Depp denied her claims and the two settled their divorce out of court in August 2016. In March 2019, Depp filed this $50 million lawsuit against Heard, but the court proceedings were postponed because of COVID.

Saturday, Heard took to Instagram to thank her followers for their support and announce she would be taking a break from social media until the trial is over. "Hopefully when this case concludes, I can move on and so can Johnny," she wrote in part. "I have always maintained a love for Johnny and it brings me great pain to have to live out the details of our past life together in front of the world. At this time, I recognize the ongoing support I've been fortunate to receive throughout these years, and in these coming weeks I will be leaning on it more than ever."

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In November 2020, a U.K. court ruled against Depp in his libel lawsuit against British tabloid The Sun for calling him a "wife-beater," upholding the publication's claims as "substantially true" after Heard's testimony. Depp's attempt to overturn the ruling was overruled in March 2021.